Chapter Forty-seven: War Party
Geoffrey fidgetted in his seat, his foot tapping rapidly against the ground. Being overactive, he hated waiting especially when he had nothing to occupy his time while doing so. Across from him was a dour-looking muscleman in a wicker chair. In addition to the dwarf at his side, he was being fussed on by a ranger, his cousin — if their story was to be believed, personally, he doubted that. Mr. muscle had his torso wrapped tightly in bandages with even one of his arms bound tightly to his chest. The ranger was clad in simple leathers and despite busying himself pouring soothing oils over his cousin’s bandages, he carried an ominous looking longbow on his back.
As for the other occupants in the tent; there was a rank three swordsman clearly past his prime and a young scout who, frankly speaking, looked and sounded like he only just started growing pubes. Then, there was Geoffrey’s own adventuring party, or at least, most of them. Two of their number had gone out. For the life of him though, Geoffrey could not figure out what the middle-aged man and the boy were doing in the tent. The others he could understand. They had cleared the dungeon’s first floor with loot and medallions to prove it but the others?
“When is the Warden getting back?” Geoffrey asked one of his companions.
The bored cleric did not look up from his tome, simply saying, “Not sure, he said he wished to inspect the site first.”
“So what?” Geoffrey spat impatiently. “We’re just supposed to wait for him to call on us.”
A few of the other adventurers shot him strange looks but the cleric, evidently used to this sort of behaviour did not even bat an eyelash. Languidly flipping a page, he said, “There is a lot to see, what with the decorations, entrance, surrounding hills and of course forest filled with as yet undetermined fae so maybe he’s been held up. But, of course, if you feel that one of the ten most powerful men in the empire is wasting your time, feel free to drag him here.”
Geoffrey scowled but said nothing. It was a good thing he did not because less than a minute later the Warden, clad in his signature armour, pulled aside the flap of the tent striding in as if he owned it. Two members of their party followed, one with awestruck eyes. Quickly, they came over to Geoffrey’s side leaving the Warden alone to address the assembled adventurers.
“Greetings!” Gauwyn began. “I trust you are well.”
They all gave their greetings in turn though many glances went towards the bandaged guardian. Gauwyn focused on him as well.
“You are Coenbert, leader of the Defenders, Am I right?”
The guardian nodded with a grimace.
“Congratulations! The dungeon lists you as the first and the fastest to conquer the first floor!” came the unexpected response.
“Apparently, it makes note of all achievements in its halls. The walls of the antechamber are smooth and clear. Judging from what’s happened so far, I think it is fair to say that beating a boss gets you recorded on it. That is probably why it requires you to register a party name before entering”, Gauwyn explained.
Most of the adventurers seemed not to care but the warden noticed the mages, cleric and unsurprisingly, the dwarf, take notice. The fact that the dungeon had enough self-awareness to pull such a stunt was a major thing to note.
“Currently, I am unable to date the dungeon. Due to the lack of tool marks, I cannot tell when the entrance or its decorations were made and the lack of surrounding communities to ask about it only compounds the problem. I understand your parties were the first to discover it. How did that happen?” he asked.
Sieg spoke up. “It was me!”
“We were on a job about three kilometres south-east of here when we saw a faerie”, he said. “It beckoned to us but on account of the advice of one of our fellows, we ignored it till it went away.”
Gauwyn nodded, not bothering to ask what job could have brought them here. He already knew from the Guildmaster in Arham that they had no official mission in the area. Illegal mining was rampant in the area. Lucky for them, they had already received a pardon from the local guild thanks to their find. If it was something more serious, like pixie hunting, they would not have gotten off so easily.
“When it left, I followed it and it led us here”, Sieg was saying.
“Why?” The warden asked.
“Why did you follow it?” he repeated.
“I am a ranger”, Sieg said like it explained everything. Fortunately, this was one of the few occasions it did. “I had some fruit. Thought maybe I could make a bargain, learn about the area to help the job go better but it did not stop when I called just kept flying till we got here.”
“And you say there were more faeries around the entrance when you came here?”
“Yes!” the ranger affirmed confidently. “They were everywhere, six or eight of them. Flying around like bees just not as many. We thought this was a faerie mound at first.”
“The rest of you saw this?” Gauwyn asked.
They nodded unknowingly echoing their companions outside the tent.
“These faeries, what happened to them?” he asked as a follow-up.
“They took off, straight into the thing” Sieg answered.
The warden frowned. This was the part he found difficult to believe. “You’re sure they went into the dungeon?”
Everyone nodded again.
“Did any of you see them come out?” he questioned.
It was here that they too saw the inconsistency and yet they stood by their statements and those of their companions. The faeries never came out of the dungeon. To Gauwyn, it was a worrying sign. Turning to the dwarf, he held out a hand.
“I am guessing that’s the prize”, he said.
Reluctantly, the dwarf handed the bow over, understanding the warden’s intent.
Name: Blighting Bow | Rank: Three | Grade: Masterwork
Affinities: Dark, Demonic | Durability: E | Attack Amplification: E
Description: This is a hateful, cursed thing made from the bodies and mana of Blightwasps. Like the wasps, it curses everything it strikes. The wielder is exempt but only if he turns its ire on others. As such, it should only be carried by those who would use it and put aside when not in use. A strong will is needed to bear this weapon for long periods without conflict.
The craftsmanship that went into it is strange and otherworldly. Blightwasps and blightwasps only were used in its making, an impossible task given that the bow is not only strong but single formed.
This item is monster borne and can only be obtained after besting the first guardian in a dungeon known as the Realm of Valor located in the Eastern reaches of the Basilean Empire.
Requirements: MAG G | STR: F
- Guiding hand: This bow helps compensate the wielder’s accuracy
- Amplify: This bow can amplify the strengths of attacks and skills by a degree of E.
- Ever-strung: this bow can be left strung without risk of damage. It has no true string. Rather, a manifestation of its dark powers is what all arrows are nocked to.
- Blighten: All arrows loosed from this bow will inflict a random curse on their target.
“This was all it dropped?” Gauwyn asked in amazement. He was no bowman but his close relationship with the dwarves had taught him how to admire its good craftsmanship. The thing in his hands deserved its title as a masterwork despite its low rank. He valued it at two to three thousand gold basileans.
“Just this and a few vials of elixir”, the dwarf revealed.
“Too bad but it is prize enough I suppose”, Gauwyn said. In his heart, however, he laughed at his own greed. This find alone was a coup. “It is We’ll just have to get more tomorrow!”
Taking a seat, he called on Coenbert. “Tell me everything that happened in the dungeon.”
Geoffrey and the other members of The Bloodsoaked Fox, the adept ranked party he would be diving with tomorrow, leaned forward to listen. Just like that, the inside of the tent became a war party.